Herring Sues Department of Education for Not Enforcing Gainful Employment Rule

Release from Office of Attorney General Mark Herring:

Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 18 state attorneys general in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, a federal regulation designed to protect students from predatory for-profit schools.

“The Department of Education should be protecting our students and holding for-profit schools accountable, but Secretary DeVos is irresponsibly refusing to enforce a rule that does just that,” said Attorney General Herring. “Too many students across the country take on thousands of dollars in student loans based on promises made by a for-profit school, only to find themselves in deep debt with no degree or one that may not lead to a good job like the school advertised.  More than one million Virginia student borrowers have a total of more than $30 billion in outstanding student loan balances, and I’ll continue to stand up and fight for them and their families.”

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, which implements the requirement in the Higher Education Act that all for-profit schools, all vocational schools, and non-degree programs at all other schools “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” 

The Gainful Employment Rule has two important aspects.  First, it empowers prospective students to make informed decisions by requiring schools to provide information about the program’s average debt load, the loan repayment rate of all students who enroll in the program, the percentage of students who graduate from the program, the number of graduates who obtain employment in a field related to the program, and the average earnings of graduates.  Second, the Gainful Employment Rule assesses whether schools’ programs provide education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts. If the programs fail the objective metrics, federal student loans and grants would no longer be provided to those programs.

On July 5, 2017 and August 18, 2017, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Gainful Employment Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department has also publicly stated that it has no plans to calculate the necessary metrics to determine whether programs are failing the Gainful Employment Rule’s minimum requirements.  State attorneys general argue in their lawsuit that the delays have no legal justification and the Department’s actions are “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

Today’s complaint asks the Court to declare the Department’s delay notices unlawful and to order the Department to implement the Gainful Employment Rule.

Attorney General Herring joined state attorneys general from California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington in filing today’s lawsuit. 

Washington state sues DeVos for suspending rule intended to keep colleges from offering worthless degrees

Four days after he stood on a Bellevue street corner with other protesters and denounced Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against DeVos and her department.

This lawsuit is aimed at stopping the U.S. Education Department from delaying, or refusing to enforce, an Obama-era rule intended to keep for-profit college and trade schools from offering worthless degrees and leaving their graduates with high levels of debt.

In an interview, Ferguson said the rule offers “common-sense protections for folks all across the country,” and he believes it is being suspended illegally because the administration is not going through public hearings and other forms of feedback outlined by the federal Administrative Procedure Act. Attorneys general from 16 other states, plus the District of Columbia, are joining the lawsuit.

The Administrative Procedure Act “is there … to avoid exactly this situation,” in which a new administration comes in and tosses out rules developed by a previous administration, he said.

DeVos suspended the rule this summer, calling the regulations “overly burdensome.”

It’s the 17th such lawsuit Ferguson’s office has filed against the Trump administration; his office has also intervened in four other cases to defend rules it believes the administration isn’t defending.

The “gainful employment rule,” as it is called, aims to hold postsecondary schools accountable for the quality of the education they offer. It is a new rule that would stop the flow of federal financial aid to schools whose graduates aren’t making enough money to repay the student loans they took out to earn their degrees.

In early January, before Trump was sworn in, the Department of Education released a list of more than 800 schools nationwide that had failed the gainful employment test. Almost all of the schools were for-profit colleges.

But no school has yet lost federal funding. DeVos’ predecessor, John B. King Jr., said in a conference call with reporters in January that the numbers were released to give career colleges “an opportunity and in some cases a warning to improve the quality of their programs.”

The gainful employment rule requires colleges and other postsecondary schools to provide accurate information about average earnings and debt loads of their graduates.

The rule gives postsecondary institutions many different ways to show they are meeting their obligation to prepare students for gainful employment, “and only penalizes those institutions that repeatedly and flagrantly failed to do so,” according to the lawsuit.

Ferguson’s office has also filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit that challenges Obama-era rules on student loans. He has joined other state attorneys general in arguing that those rules deter predatory for-profit colleges from violating consumer-protection laws. And his office is also suing Navient, the nation’s largest loan servicer, for a range of business practices, including allegedly making unauthorized robocalls, doing a poor job of tracking payment processing errors, steering borrowers into costlier repayment options and misapplying payments.

“Long before Donald Trump was president, we’ve been pretty focused in this office on student loan issues,” Ferguson said. “This is not a new issue for the office, but it is frustrating to me the Trump administration is not following this rule.”

WVU to launch global competency certificate program – Charleston Gazette

Next fall, West Virginia University is planning to launch a new global competency certificate program that will require students who participate to study abroad for at least one semester or participate in an international internship.

School officials said they hope the new program will encourage more students to study abroad and will give students a leg up on other graduates in an increasingly global economy, said William Brustein, the school’s vice president for global strategies and international affairs.

“The goal is to integrate international, global perspectives into what students learn on campus,” Brustein said.

Brustein launched a similar program at The Ohio State University when he worked there under then-university president Gordon Gee. Brustein said Gee, now at WVU, brought him to the Mountain State to launch similar international initiatives like the certificate program.

At WVU, Brustein said he is replicating two programs he spearheaded in Ohio. The first involves WVU partnering with foreign universities to expand the school’s academic reach. Already, WVU has started partnering with a private university in Bahrain. The global competency certificate, which Brustein calls the “Global Mountaineers” program, is the second.

The new certificate program will likely launch for undergraduates next fall, then for graduate students soon after, according to Lisa DiBartolomeo, a professor in the school’s Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics who is heading up designing the program.

If all goes as planned, she said the program should be “relatively flexible” so students in nearly every major can participate. The university hopes that non-traditional students who might have already graduated will consider taking part in the program.

“We’re hoping this will be a really attractive opportunity for students throughout West Virginia, and not just students in college or community college,” DiBartolomeo said. “It’s for people in the community, too, people who might be looking to move up in their career path or looking to add an additional credential. Based on our peer institutions, we think this is a very competitive program that will be attractive for a lot of people.”

The program will begin with a one-hour credit class online which introduces students to the basics of world geography, data analytics and comparing and contrasting different cultures and regions of the world.

From there, DiBartolomeo said students will need at least six credits, or two classes, in a foreign language. Many WVU students already are required to take two foreign language credits, and those credits would be able to count toward the certificate.

Students will be required to take six credit hours in core course material — many of which will overlap with the school’s existing general education curriculum — and an ending assessment. Students will also need to complete some sort of education abroad program, which DiBartolomeo said could be an international internship or could be the traditional study abroad program WVU already offers.

“It is tricky in this age when we’re really trying to think about college affordability to say we’re going to require a study abroad component, I fully recognize that represents a significant financial commitment for a student.”

But without that component, she said the certificate program wouldn’t be competitive with other similar certificate programs.

New report highlights General Assembly’s failed record on higher education

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a nonpartisan organization, has published new state-specific data on college affordability that paint a damning picture of the General Assembly’s record.

The report shows that both cost of attendance and student loan debt have risen dramatically from 2008 to 2014. These increases disproportionately create barriers to economic advancement for students of color and students from low-income families.

North Carolina’s constitution places a very important responsibility on the General Assembly. State leaders are required to provide higher education for free “as far as practicable.” Article IX, Section 9 reads:

The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

Of course, the “as far as practicable” language provides policymakers legal wiggle room to place some of the financial burden of college attendance on students. But the SREB data make it awfully hard to argue that General Assembly leaders are continuing to meet their constitutional responsibility.

The share of family income required to support a full-time student at a North Carolina college or university increased dramatically from 2008 to 2014. On average, families in North Carolina needed to devote 13 percent of their income in 2008 to pay for a full-time student at one of the state’s four research universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro). By 2014, the cost nearly doubled, rocketing to 21 percent of average family income.

The story is similar at four-year non-research institutions of the UNC System (e.g., Appalachian State, East Carolina University, UNC Asheville, etc.), where the percentage of family income needed to attend full-time has also nearly doubled.

The story is slightly better at North Carolina’s community colleges, but the percentage of family income necessary to attend full time has still increased over this time period: from 14.8 percent in 2008 to 18.1 percent in 2014.

The SREB data also show that the increasing financial burden to attend colleges falls most harshly on low-income families. Even after accounting for need-based federal and state grants, low-income families must dedicate a greater share of their income to attend a North Carolina college.

Higher education is supposed to be the path toward upward economic mobility. However, the disproportionate cost of college for low-income North Carolinians closes off this path for a growing share of the state’s populace. State and federal need-based aid are clearly failing to create equal opportunity for all students to advance their education beyond high school.

Not surprisingly, the SREB data also show increasing levels of student debt. North Carolina students are taking on about 45 percent more debt than they assumed in 2008, according to the SREB report. The average North Carolina student took on $14,328 to attend a research university as a full-time student in 2008, but this number climbed to $20,325 in 2014. As Marion Johnson of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center’s noted in a recent report, student loan debt is both a symptom and a cause of racial inequity. The increasing cost of North Carolina’s colleges and universities is disproportionately burdening black students with high levels of student loan debt.

It’s no coincidence that state support for the University of North Carolina system has deteriorated since 2008. Since 2008, state funding per student has decreased by 14 percent. Over the same period, average, inflation-adjusted tuition and mandatory fees increased by 48 percent. These changes go hand-in-hand. Recent research has shown that “the single biggest driver of rising tuitions for public colleges has been declining state funding for higher education.”

The SREB data should serve as a loud and clear wake-up call to North Carolina’s policymakers. North Carolina’s constitution establishes the goal of making higher education free for all of the state’s students, not just rich ones. But years of austerity budgets have disproportionately put higher education out of reach for North Carolina’s low-income and minority students. Such policies would be unwise and immoral in any state, but are particularly egregious given North Carolina’s abysmal track record in promoting inter-generational economic advancement.

General Assembly leaders must change course and recommit to investing in higher education so that a college degree can be as free of expense as practicable for all of the state’s students, rather than just a select few.

Kris Nordstrom is a policy analyst the N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law Project.

In most schools, gifted students with learning disabilities are left behind. Not here

Read more Narratively: The Veteran Saving His Comrades from Addiction By Embracing Their “Dysfunctional” Side

As a twice exceptional student herself, Bracamonte’s own academic life, growing up in Bethesda, Maryland, was one of frustration, rebelliousness and conflict, fueled by a lack of support for her twice exceptionality. She could speak three languages by first grade, but was held back because she couldn’t recall the alphabet in order. By third grade, she’d read many of her school’s textbooks, but was still not allowed to advance.

As the anger from being misunderstood and alienated mixed with intellectual boredom, year after year, Bracamonte began to detest social convention and authority. She turned to athletics, pouring 30 hours a week into gymnastics and track and field training, but with bitterness. When she was about to get first, second, or third place in a race — when there was something at stake — she would stop just short of the finish line and walk off the track.

“I wanted to make a point,” she says. “I wanted my coaches and school to know I didn’t care about them, or the medals, or the accolades.”

She believed school failed her, and that pain didn’t fade. Watching her children experience similar issues lit a fire in her.

Bracamonte’s older son, Julien, 18, began his academic career in public school, where his combination of ADHD and a high IQ forced his teachers to confront a challenge they were never trained to meet. Julien was always getting up and walking around the room, a thinking tool for him but a distraction for others in that particular environment.

Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ:CECO) and The Competition Head-To-Head Contrast

Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ: CECO) is one of 20 public companies in the “General Education Services” industry, but how does it contrast to its peers? We will compare Career Education Corporation to similar companies based on the strength of its institutional ownership, valuation, risk, analyst recommendations, earnings, dividends and profitability.

Insider Institutional Ownership

75.4% of Career Education Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 66.6% of shares of all “General Education Services” companies are owned by institutional investors. 4.9% of Career Education Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 13.9% of shares of all “General Education Services” companies are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.


This table compares Career Education Corporation and its peers’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Risk Volatility

Career Education Corporation has a beta of 2.71, suggesting that its stock price is 171% more volatile than the SP 500. Comparatively, Career Education Corporation’s peers have a beta of 1.14, suggesting that their average stock price is 14% more volatile than the SP 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and recommmendations for Career Education Corporation and its peers, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Career Education Corporation currently has a consensus price target of $13.00, suggesting a potential upside of 23.34%. As a group, “General Education Services” companies have a potential upside of 3.14%. Given Career Education Corporation’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts clearly believe Career Education Corporation is more favorable than its peers.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Career Education Corporation and its peers gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Career Education Corporation’s peers have higher revenue and earnings than Career Education Corporation. Career Education Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than its peers, indicating that it is currently more affordable than other companies in its industry.


Career Education Corporation beats its peers on 7 of the 12 factors compared.

About Career Education Corporation

Career Education Corporation, through its colleges, institutions and universities, offers education to students in a range of career-oriented disciplines through online, on-ground and hybrid learning programs. The Company’s American InterContinental University (AIU) and Colorado Technical University (CTU) provide degree programs through the master’s or doctoral level as well as associate and bachelor’s levels. The Company operates through four segments: CTU, AIU, Culinary Arts and Transitional Group. Its University group consists of AIU and CTU, which serve students online with career-focused degree programs. Its Career Colleges Group consists of Culinary Arts and Transitional Group segments. The Culinary Arts segment includes Le Cordon Bleu institutions in North America (LCB), which offer hands-on educational programs in the career-oriented disciplines of culinary arts and patisserie and baking in the commercial-grade kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu.

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Boilermaker Games celebrate students

E.J. Street of Manteno High School gets a high five from a classmate as he carries the Sportsmanship trophy off the football field at the Boilermaker Fall Games Friday afternoon at BBCHS.

College of Education increases graduation rate by 15 percent

The College of Education’s four-year graduation rate has increased over 15 percent from 2016 to 2017, with 81.4 percent of undergraduate students graduating within four years in 2017.

Beginning in 2014, the College of Education began the student success and recruiting initiative through funding from the Provost’s Office. When the initiative began, the College of Education had a four-year graduation rate of 64.5 percent.

“We’ve really achieved a tremendous amount of success,” said Sherry Field, assistant dean for teacher education, outreach and recruitment.

The College of Education created the P.O.W.E.R. program to assist students who are on the edge of probation to get back on track, Field said.

“Part of the success of the P.O.W.E.R. program was developing closer relationships with their academic advisers,” Field said. “We really wanted to go that extra step and make sure we were doing everything we could do to make that personal connection.”

With assistance from an engineering staff member, the College of Education also created a software program called G4, which, according to Field, is meant to go beyond what a degree audit can do. The program allows
students to see what they need to complete each semester to graduate in four years.

“That’s a huge step,” Field said. “As a student you don’t have to go back through all the course offerings and look at what you need to do.”

Field said she hopes the College of Education reaches a 90 percent four-year graduation rate.

“I would love for anybody who comes to UT to graduate in four years,” Field said. “It just makes good financial sense, but the reality is life happens, and it’s not always possible for students in any major to graduate in four years.”

The academic advising staff within the College of Education works to spend more individual time with students, said Antoinette Stanley-Hart, academic advising coordinator for the College of Education.

“I’m amazed at our accomplishment and feel that it is a direct result of the aggressive approach working with students on academic probation through our P.O.W.E.R. program, as well as the commitment to our advising team,” Stanley-Hart said.

General education junior Jessica Barnett said the advisers in the College of Education were helpful when she transferred from the College of Natural Sciences, and the graduation rate is great.

“I think it’s exciting that our University is growing and producing more students and really changing the world,” Barnett said.